Zionists and Islamists

by mgopin on January 1, 2015 · 0 comments

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At a minimum a Zionist is one who loves Zion, often a Jew, but sometimes a Christian. At a minimum, an Islamist is someone who loves Islam, usually a Muslim. I see no reason to use either term in pejorative or hateful way, as a curse or as a condemnation. Associated with Zionism has been all manner of crimes against the native Palestinian people for over a hundred years, associated with Islamism has been tens of thousands of victims of crimes across the world, mostly Muslim victims. But it is an empirical fact that thousands of Zionists and millions of Islamists repudiate the crimes associated with these respective labels. They claim this is not true Zionism or true Islamism. We should agree as a global community to recognize the existence of these people, in fact to honor them. We can disagree with their philosophy but we should not label and dehumanize them.

I am no longer going to use the word “Islamist” in a pejorative way, I am going to retire it from my lexicon. I am going to use the word extremist or criminal when it comes to ISIS, Al Qaeda, or any other group that advocates coercion in religion or killing of civilians. It would be great if I could live in a world where the Muslim world no longer uses the word Zionist as a curse word, because in effect it becomes an assault on most Jews and certainly all Israelis. This is not helpful. The old adage of Beruriah, the great lady of the Talmud, remains true: Hate the sin and not the sinner. My read: Condemn the crime, do not label people, because then you will end up becoming a criminal yourself. I remember my years in Syria among Baathist officials who always screamed against and condemned “the Zionists” while abusing their own citizens especially poor Palestinians, while I “the Zionist” had spent half my life working together with Palestinians in Palestine. It amused me how stupid they were, but now it is not so funny. Now look at what these officials did with 200,000 dead, half an entire civilization and country exiled.

I am asking the Left and the Right to stop labeling, condemning, and hating, and start building bridges. I am asking Left and Right to condemn violence and crime, not people, and certainly not with labels which are the foundations of dehumanization.

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MONEY

by mgopin on December 2, 2014 · 0 comments

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Every dollar spent is an investment in the world’s tilt towards the good or the bad.

Every dollar is a statement, a testimony to who you are and what you believe in.
Money is sacred, money is power, money is a testimony. No matter how wealthy or how poor you consider yourself to be, your spent money is a testimony to who you are and what your power is as long as you live. Even your saved money, is spent by where you save it.

Ask, before each dollar spent or invested, does this reflect my core beliefs?
And if not, how could I inch some of it in a new direction?

A world of 7 billion can seem to be a terribly disempowering place,
It is not. That is just our perception and our commitment to learned helplessness.
To everything we do, every day at every moment, there is a hidden power.
We can spend that power not unconsciously, not with apathy, but with intention.
It will make us happier to confront our power and use it with intention,
and we will engage in a much more enlightened, spirited and responsible debate among us. Every plastic wrapping or cup that we refuse to buy, every dollar that we put into an enterprise of equal ownership, every time we go to a store with a better reputation for kindness and fairness, every purchase of the natural, becomes a statement of our power. It seems trivial only because we forget that we 7 billion are one, and when we change just one habit, we change the world.

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DEMOCRACY’S PARADOX

by mgopin on December 2, 2014 · 0 comments

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(reflections on the 2010 decade’s upward tick of liberal idea dissemination, coinciding with the upward tick of reactionary trends in democratic voting)

The weakness of democracy:
The ballot box,
For it is a private space of,
Exposed tribalism.
This is a paradox for,
Democracy was meant as an antidote to tribalism.
The strength of democracy:
Agreed upon rights,
Agreed upon universal commitments,
Based on the unshakeable rule of law.
This has upended,
Tribalism’s death grip on history.
This is also a paradox of human nature.
What is to be done next?

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Idolatry

by mgopin on November 25, 2014 · 0 comments

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Idolatry is not about icons or about multiple names or faces for the Divine. That is common even among monotheists. Idolatry is worshiping one thing so much you consume all virtues, all human beings, in pursuit of that one thing, and delude yourself into feeling perfectly righteous in doing so. Guns, money, power, race, oil, male domination, settlements….

 

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Health

by mgopin on November 24, 2014 · 0 comments

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There are two patients who are the toughest: the one who cannot be convinced that he is sick, the one who cannot be convinced that he is healthy. This is even more true of the mind than it is of the body.

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(Photo: Teachers net)

 

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My latest article has come up on Huffington Post. Appreaciate your consideration, comments, and critiques!

Abyei-Patrol2

“A New United nations of Human Rights Countries,” Huffington Post

The ten most successful nations on earth, in terms of well-known categories of human rights adherence, as well as other quality of life metrics, such as equal pay, women’s equality, the basic freedoms, environmental sustainability, should form a union that will come with very clear and enviable privileges and for the governments and peoples of said states… 

The goal of such a union is simple: incentivized expansion, the creation of a club that aspires to include more and more member states, as those states reach the appointed threshold metrics of human rights adherence. This will create incentives, from both top down and bottom up, to improve a human rights record. This will revitalize a global movement in a better direction for many nations, and it will also make it clear to citizens of repressive societies what exactly their leaders are withholding from them, which in turn will create dynamic struggle of citizens, both privileged and underprivileged…..

You can access to the full article from here.

 

(Photo: UNMIS/Stuart Price)

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Absolutes

by mgopin on November 14, 2014 · 0 comments

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together

Absolutes meet absolutes,
On the battlefield of mind.
The winner takes the heart,
And the heart drives the hands,
And the hands do what they will.
There is a time on this earth,
For questions,
And there is a time for answers.
The mind is the gateway
To the question,
And the question is the gateway
To knowledge of things,
Earthly and divine.
But the young mind also craves absolutes.

[click to continue…]

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CRDC’s Work in Afghanistan Featured

by mgopin on October 30, 2014 · 4 comments

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Afghan FP

CRDC’s work in Afghanistan is highlighted in this article from Foreign Policy.

In line with this approach, over the last few years, the World Organization for Resource Development and Education — a nonprofit, educational organization with which we are both affiliated — co-hosted a series of conferences with the U.S.-based George Mason and Boston Universities on peacebuilding from an Islamic perspective. The conference brought together 200 religious leaders from across Afghanistan to meet with internationally-renowned Muslim scholars. By utilizing a faith-based approach, it was possible to generate discussions on hot-button issues ranging from jihad to women’s rights.

Please check out the whole article from here.

Foreign Policy, Six Things About Afghanistan That May Surprise You.

 

(Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

 

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Self-Trust and Self-Distrust

by mgopin on October 23, 2014 · 1 comment

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tree

Trust your feelings = moral intuitionism,
Distrust your feelings = cognitive therapy and utilitarianism,
When to trust or distrust = the wisdom of painful experience.

 

(Photo: Vikram Soni)

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excellent film watch it! please read this piece that I wrote in its spirit.

 

Recently, I did not post or write for several days due to trips and holidays. It gave me a chance to absorb and receive writing rather than to give. I came to a conclusion that surprised myself. Those of us globally who are trying to change the world for the better with our words (unlike classical journalism which is about reporting harsh realities) must commit to writing less and less on what cannot be changed, on what is essentially outrageous and dispiriting, UNLESS, we include a practical step that anyone reading can readily take. For example, no more stories on voter registration prevention, unless there is a link to what I, me, myself, can do in some way–not by giving money only–to go and help someone get registered. No more about Muslim kids being kidnapped for global war, unless there is a link to some organization or teacher or preacher who is reaching out to those same kids successfully.

I realize this is a tall order, that it is hard to find such links to practical work, and I am not talking about no more posts at all that are despairing without a practical outlet. We, like the journalists, above all must expose the bitter truths of the world. But scientific evidence is overwhelming that we may be shooting ourselves in the foot by depressing our readers and driving them to inaction, when we offer no way to change impending disasters or moral outrages. Therefore, every post on climate degradation should come with one practical step to reverse it. These steps can be very simple, not earth shattering, but something important to do. I want to shift the nature of our global intervention as a community of social change through writing and reporting, shift it toward every single human being who reads being empowered with at least one way to take his feelings and turn it into practical and positive ways to change the earth for the better.

We writers must not be an international echo chamber of despair, but rather a global symphony of social action.

 

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